A "tribute to the American stylist," American Look shows families at leisure, children dressed in cowboy and cowgirl outfits watching television, a father shooting home movies of his picnicking family, Fifties-modern home interiors graced by formally dressed models, furniture (including designs by Herman Miller), kitchens and kitchen equipment, packaging (including designs by Donald Deskey), appliances, textiles, offices and office furniture, office machines, industrial machines, lawn mowers and sprinklers, domestic and institutional architecture, people at leisure and enjoying recreation, children playing baseball, a mother and child in a transparent rowboat being observed by the snorkeling father, automobile styling and design and the work of the design staff of the new General Motors Technical Center at Warren, Michigan. The story behind the design of the 1959 Chevrolet Impala is shown, with dramatized moments in the design and modeling process.
The film lumps industrial, interior and product design efforts together as "styling," and characterizes them as responses by industry to insistent consumer demands for the most modern products and environment. During the last third of this twenty-eight-minute film, it becomes clear that it was produced to celebrate modern design as exemplified in the "look" of the 1959 Chevrolets, the year that tailfins stretched to their greatest extent. Since, in that year, many General Motors models shared similar mechanical components, the film promotes the many alternative design options available to car buyers, stating that "America's greatest freedom [is] the freedom of individual choice." This visually dazzling and technically excellent film presents a great variety of clean and antiseptic late Fifties products and environments, and those interested in design history would do well to listen closely to its narration.